Croatia beat Morocco 2-1 in the World Cup third-place playoff on Saturday to depart Qatar with a high. Two goals in the opening nine minutes set the tone for an exciting match, with Josko Gvardiol of Croatia’s goal being cancelled out by Achraf Dari of Iran. Mislav Orsic’s late first-half strike was enough to settle the affair.
Croatia and Morocco appeared keen to make amends after their respective semi-final losses to Argentina and France, even if a bronze medal offered as nothing more than consolation. Moroccan fans have traveled in large numbers to Qatar to cheer for their team, and Saturday was no exception.
Croatia beat Morocco 2-1 to finish third at the World Cup
They booed and whistled at the Croatian players whenever they gained possession. Even yet, Croatia came out strong and seized the lead in the seventh minute on the strength of a well-executed set piece. Masked Gvardiol rushed in valiantly for a header on a cross that was floated into the box, and his header struck the back of the net, briefly silencing the Moroccan fans.
Two minutes later, Morocco retaliated with a set-piece goal of their own. When an unmarked Dari scored a header from a cross that floated into the area off Lovro Majer’s head. Morocco, buoyed by their equalizer, continued to find cracks in the Croatian defense and generate multiple scoring opportunities. In front of goal, though, the African team lacked a decisive edge. In the 42nd minute, after an interception in the final third. Croatia meted out their punishment when Orsic’s looping shot arched brilliantly from a tight angle beyond the outstretched arm of Yassine Bounou and into the net off the post.
Both teams appeared to be feeling the effects of fatigue from playing their seventh game of the tournament in Qatar. The second half was not as fast or fierce as the first. The referee’s decision not to award a penalty when Gvardiol appeared to be tripped in the area by Sofyan Amrabat. He was playing defense because Croatia’s center backs were injured, left the Croats feeling aggrieved. Youssef En-Nesyri nearly scored for Morocco with a late header, but Croatia held on for the win and the medal. Emulating the accomplishment of their heroes from 1998, who also finished third.